Most women can remember their first period. I can: I was staying with my step-grandmother, with my dad and his wife. We went to a pharmacy to buy pads, which were massive and gave me the impression that I could expect to lose a lot of blood – which thankfully, I didn’t. When I got home to my mum, she gave me a big hug and said (slightly tearfully) “You can have a baby now!” I was 11, so this was not exactly comforting, but the intention was good and I was thankful even then that I was able to discuss it with her openly.
Uncertainty, struggle and stigma are just some of the threads that knit together the shared experiences of the homeless community.
But for women who are homeless, there are several unique challenges only they know: What it's like to have a period without access to supplies. What it's like to monitor your behavior due to fear of sexual assault. What it's like to be pregnant and not have the services you desperately need.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Last week, UK news reported that the charity Freedom4Girls had discovered school girls in West Yorkshire had no alternative but to stuff toilet paper down their pants to stop themselves from bleeding through their clothes at school. They couldn’t afford sanitary products and some were skipping school as a result. Freedom4Girls is a UK-based organisation that is focused on work in Kenya on this issue. However, since learning about these girls, the Charity has had sent some sample packs to the school and launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for research into the scale of the issue in the UK.
This is a sad and shocking revelation from an advanced economy. After the story made news, the UK’s Education Secretary Justine Greening promised to "look carefully" at the issue, in light of suggestions that tampons and sanitary towels could be given free to British pupils from low-income families. Since then, more than 15,000 people have signed a petition calling for schools to give out free tampons and towels, an initiative that has been adopted by a number of American universities and secondary schools.
The number of people sleeping rough on Britain’ s streets rose by 16 percent in 2016 to 4,134, the sixth consecutive annual increase, according to official government figures.
And the situation is particularly worrying for young people with a recent survey by the charity Centre point showing 15-25 year olds make up a quarter of street sleepers, a figure that’s expected to rise as the government moves to end housing benefits for jobless 18-21 year olds.
Leading charities and NGOs have voiced concern over the lack of support in the Spring Budget for organisations that focus on some of the most pressing social problems, including rising homelessness.
But the good news is the growing number of business leaders who are using their influence to help promote causes in dire need of recognition and funding.
Among these are brothers Sheetal and Ricky Kapoor, owners of The Edinburgh Collection Limited, a boutique hotel chain in the Scottish capital, and London’s Blackfriars Wine Bar, who are supporting several charity initiatives, most notably homelessness.
Sikhism is highly prevalent in the UK. Due to that thousands of Sikhs fought and died for Britain and the Commonwealth in the First World War and many remained in Britain once the war was over. In fact, according to the 2011 census, there are approximately 423,000 Sikhs resident in England and Wales.
Despite this, the British public still have a general lack of knowledge about what Sikhism is. I for one, have to admit before writing this article, my knowledge on the subject was patchy at best.
Even though, Sikhs who live in Britain have embraced British culture and show pride in being British. The British Sikh Report in 2014 showed that 95% of respondents were proud of their ‘Britishness’
So what exactly is a #BintiBauble you might be wondering?
Well, to celebrate Christmas, the charity Binti are decorating tampons with a Christmas theme. On Binti’s social media sites they are actually running a competition for the best homemade #BintiBauble and the Binti team will pick the best to be featured over Christmas.
Binti will also be creating a Binti Christmas tree covered in #BintiBaubles and as part of their Christmas initiative will be donating sanitary products to an organisation that needs it.
So why should you be decorating your tree with a #Bintibauble?
Don’t get misled by the title. Of course, I think we still need sex education. In fact, sex education in my opinion needs an overhaul, especially in terms of becoming more LGBTQ+ inclusive, as well as catering for the new digital age. In the US, I know the situation is much direr than the UK with many schools still only teaching abstinence only programs. Actually, according to figures obtained from the Guttmacher Institute, in 2014, 76% of U.S. public and private schools taught abstinence as the most effective way to prevent pregnancy.
However, I’m not here to talk about the desperate overhaul that sex education needs. I’m here to talk about something that was brought to my attention when talking to Manjit, CEO and founder of the charity Binti. What she introduced to me was the need for sex education and menstrual education to be separate topics. For anyone who doesn’t know, Binti, is a charity that is founded to bring dignity to women on their period, by providing women who do not have easy access to sanitary products with that access, and the charity also aims to tackle negative perceptions around periods and the shame that many women (or whatever you identify as) still feel with their period.
An Asian campaigner is collecting hundreds of sanitary towels to give to homeless women in the UK. Manjit Gill says many women who sleep rough have a difficult time during their periods. Her group - Binti Period - has launched similar projects in India. She now wants to help women in the UK. Asian Network's Poonam Taneja reports
For more than a hundred years, International Women’s Day has been celebrated on March 8th around the world - and it’s finally, albeit slowly, gaining recognition in the UK.
Its profile has risen significantly in recent weeks following the wave of women’s marches, from Washington to Sydney, to protest the policies of Donald Trump, not least one of his first executive orders that strips US funding for health clinics in developing counties that provide abortion services.
This year is set to be a game changer, with a host of events taking place across London to highlight urgent issues facing women all over the world. And there’s one event you won’t want to miss - an evening of talks by Binti International and LycaHealth to celebrate IWD’s 2017 tagline BeBoldforChange.
That’s why we have the Binti Rose Campaign because we bring love to menstruation and get girls to open up and not be embarrassed about it.”
-Manjit K. Gill (CEO/ Founder of Binti)
With a lot of different charities now running a lot of different campaigns in order to get attention to their cause, it’s hard to recognise them all. But there are some where a deeper meaning lies beneath the pose, or act the charity asks you to do. One such pose is the #BintiRosePose created by the charity Binti.
Binti, is a charity that strives to bring menstrual dignity back to women by providing sanitary products to women who do not have access to them, and by trying to smash the taboo about talking about menstruation. As having access to sanitary products is only half of the barrier facing women and their periods, as without an open dialogue, how can we start to properly help women to find ways to manage their period each month?